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Frequently Bought Together

Follow the Story: How to Write Successful Nonfiction + Writing for Story: Craft Secrets of Dramatic Nonfiction (Reference) + Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (October 14, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684850672
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684850672
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #529,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Forget everything you thought you knew about journalism. James B. Stewart shuns pyramid style and all its accoutrements for a more creative type of nonfiction, nonfiction that tells a compelling story. Stewart's ideas about nonfiction stem directly from his experience as a writer and editor of The Wall Street Journal's lengthy page-1 feature stories, which explore subjects, as Stewart says, "in depth, with style, and often ... with wit." "Good writing," Stewart says in Follow the Story, "is rooted not in knowledge, but in curiosity." Curiosity too, says Stewart, "is what make readers read the stories that result." Using examples from his own writing (for the Journal, The New Yorker, and SmartMoney, and also from his books Blood Sport and Den of Thieves), the Pulitzer Prize-winning Stewart shows how to turn your curiosity into ideas, story proposals, and then the stories themselves. Each part of the writing process-- cultivating sources, gathering information, writing the lead and the transition, structuring your piece, and then concluding it--is discussed with authority and demonstrated masterfully. Stewart also includes chapters on how to use (but not overuse) description, dialogue, anecdotes, humor, and pathos to strengthen your work. --Jane Steinberg

About the Author

James B. Stewart is the author of Heart of a Soldier, the bestselling Blind Eye and Blood Sport, and the blockbuster Den of Thieves. A former Page-One editor at The Wall Street Journal, Stewart won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading. He is a regular contributor to SmartMoney and The New Yorker. He lives in New York.

More About the Author

James B. Stewart is the author of Heart of a Soldier, the bestselling Blind Eye and Blood Sport, and the blockbuster Den of Thieves. A former Page-One editor at The Wall Street Journal, Stewart won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading. He is a regular contributor to SmartMoney and The New Yorker. He lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Anieta Carlson on April 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
James B. Stewart appears to be in love with himself. But weed out the self-glorifying comments. Harvest the tips, ideas and fruit and you'll find a helpful a step-by-step plan for writing an interesting feature story.
The six page introduction has between 90 and 100 references to himself. He explains why he is qualified to write this book and walks the reader through the events in his life that led him to become a writer. He was the editor of the Wall Street front page.
Nearly every illustration in the book is from his work. The 60 page appendix is three stories that he wrote. His most frequent statement thoughout the book is, "In my opinion" or a variation of that. I can see my high school English teacher cringing and shouting, "Who else's opinion would it be?"
But skim the book with a highlighter. Marking the sections that are instructional, the step-by-step writing processes. Of the 300 actual book pages (excluding the appendix), you'll be left with about half the book. Read them carefully. If you're looking for a good instructional feature writing book, what's left is worth the effort.
Stewart begins the writing process with curiosity. He then shows how to turn that curiosity into idea hunting. He teaches how to gather information, form a lead, and decide on and follow a structure. According to Stewart, the type of question the story is answering tells the author what lead, structure and ending to use. Possible types of questions: What's going on? What are others are doing? What is a certain person really like? How could that have happened? How should I feel? What should my reaction be? What caused such-and-such? What happened? Each of those questions suggests a different story type and requires a different kind of structure and response.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anieta Carlson on April 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
James B. Stewart appears to be in love with himself. But weed out the self-glorifying comments. Harvest the tips, ideas and fruit and you'll find a helpful a step-by-step plan for writing an interesting feature story.
The six page introduction has between 90 and 100 references to himself. He explains why he is qualified to write this book and walks the reader through the events in his life that led him to become a writer. He was the editor of the Wall Street front page.
Nearly every illustration in the book is from his work. The 60 page appendix is three stories that he wrote. His most frequent statement thoughout the book is, "In my opinion" or a variation of that. I can see my high school English teacher cringing and shouting, "Who else's opinion would it be?"
But skim the book with a highlighter. Marking the sections that are instructional, the step-by-step writing processes. Of the 300 actual book pages (excluding the appendix), you'll be left with about half the book. Read them carefully. If you're looking for a good instructional feature writing book, what's left is worth the effort.
Stewart begins the writing process with curiosity. He then shows how to turn that curiosity into idea hunting. He teaches how to gather information, form a lead, and decide on and follow a structure. According to Stewart, the type of question the story is answering tells the author what lead, structure and ending to use. Possible types of questions: What's going on? What are others are doing? What is a certain person really like? How could that have happened? How should I feel? What should my reaction be? What caused such-and-such? What happened? Each of those questions suggests a different story type and requires a different kind of structure and response.
Read more ›
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
Anyone newspaper or magazine writer who has thought about the craft will be fascinated and, I hope, ultimately convinced by Stewart's arguments. This is not a book for beginners -- no advice on grammar -- but it is perfect for those who have been in the business awhile and miss the days when they got feedback from teachers and actually talked about issues deeper than deadlines and story lengths. There is deep thought here -- but it's not just philosophy; Stewart shows you how to make concrete improvements in your own writing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roger Karraker on January 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've not seen a better book that explains the craft of newspaper/magazine feature writing. Stewart's previous books were wonderful and he well deserved his Pulitzer Prize. Now he's distilled that knowledge for others. This is the book I use in the classes I teach on magazine/newspaper feature writing.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beattie on May 7, 2005
Format: Paperback
FOLLOW THE STORY is a joy to read. Any experienced nonfiction writer of features or narrative books will appreciate Stewart's personal stories because we are reassured that our ups-and-downs have been shared by a Pulitzer Prize recipient and Wall Street Journal editor.

I re-read FOLLOW THE STORY while I was writing NIGHTMARE IN WICHITA: The Hunt for the BTK Strangler. Stewart's book helped keep me going in the right direction.

In addition to James B. Stewart's FOLLOW THE STORY, I recommend Jon Franklin's WRITING FOR STORY and Tom Wolfe's THE NEW JOURNALISM. For top examples of the advice given in these books read Stewart's DEN OF THIEVES, Franklin's SHOCK-TRAUMA, and Wolfe's THE RIGHT STUFF.

Thank you, James B. Stewart. Well done.

Robert Beattie

Wichita, Kansas
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